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Significant Digits For Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015

You’re reading a very special Thanksgiving edition of Significant Digits, a daily digest of the telling numbers tucked inside the news.

1.2 times as high

Increase in foot traffic in department stores on Black Friday, according to a Google analysis of its users’ location history from Nov. 1 though Dec. 25 last year. Electronics stores see a massive jump on the national day of commercialism, with 2.3 times as many people passing through. [Think With Google]

4 years

Amount of time it took for Thanksgiving to no longer be a holiday for retail workers. In 2011, it was considered absurd when stores like Target, Macy’s, Best Buy, and Kohl’s tried out “Black Midnight,” opening their doors right after Thanksgiving ended. Now it’s rare to find major retailers that aren’t open with deals on Thanksgiving proper. [BuzzFeed]

7 minutes

Flying to Thanksgiving dinner this year? If you’re flying on Spirit, you can expect an average of nine minutes added to the flight relative to other airlines, while if you’re on Virgin your flight is typically seven minutes faster than other airlines. [FiveThirtyEight]

11 percent

Support among Republicans for an executive action issued by President Obama pardoning two turkeys last Thanksgiving, rather than the usual one. 38 percent of GOP respondents to the Public Policy Polling survey opposed the choice. In fairness, that turkey did all those murders and swore he’d kill again, so the argument for the additional pardon is understandably fraught. [PPP Polls]

20 percent

Percentage of respondents to a survey about Thanksgiving dinner who said they had mac and cheese on the table. But that’s not consistent across the country. Thanksgiving sides are regionally specific: About 35 percent of Southerners who took the survey said they’d have macaroni and cheese on the meal, with similar disproportionate preferences for squash in New England, cornbread in the central south, and, believe it or not, salad on the west coast. [FiveThirtyEight]


According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, that’s the average cost of a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 in the year 2015, up 70 cents from 2014. [Las Vegas Review Journal]

83 percent

As for the football on Thanksgiving, the FiveThirtyEight model says the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles game is a coin flip — the Lions have a win probability of 52 percent. As the day goes on, the pre-game probabilities get a little more lopsided: Carolina is forecasted to beat Dallas 65 percent of the time, and Green Bay should beat Chicago 83 percent of the time. [FiveThirtyEight]


Forecast of the average per-shopper holiday spending this year, according to the National Retail Federation. It forecasts $630.5 billion to be spent this year, up 3.7 percent from 2014. Still, this doesn’t mean that Black Friday rules anymore: consumer spending, once isolated on the day after Thanksgiving, has become more distributed. [The Dallas Morning News]

10,000 calls

On Thanksgiving day last year the Butterball turkey prep hotline fielded more than 10,000 calls. [The Guardian]

Over 6 million

Estimated population of North American wild turkeys, up from a low of somewhere between 30,000 to 200,000 at the lowest level in the 1920s and 1930s. [New Scientist]

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We’re off for the holiday — talk to you Monday!

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.